The Midlands and West Country & Wales categories were hotly contested in the Forecourt Trader Awards. amy lanning catches up with the winners
MIDLANDS: 2.5mlpa PLUS
ROBERT AND HUGH FRASER
The Fraser brothers Robert and Hugh have won many Forecourt Trader awards over the years and 2011 saw them pick up Best Midlands Site for their newest forecourt, Budgens of Yarnton near Kidlington, Oxfordshire.
Mark Wilson, group operations manager for the Fraser Group, says one of the reasons for the success of Yarnton is down to the research done before the site was knocked down and rebuilt. "Myself and Nick Fraser (Robert’s son) researched the area even prior to buying the site and noticed that although the competition was strong in the form of various offers of convenience stores locally, there was nothing in the immediate area for locals without them having to get in the car and travel."
The site has impressive car washing facilities on the forecourt, along with a Subway, Post Office and extensive Budgens offer, which is strong on fresh food. Says Mark: "We involved the locals before the site was built by holding a meeting in the village hall and getting their input into what they wanted to see."
MIDLANDS: UP TO 2.5mlpa
Lee Whiteman has been in his family’s forecourt business for just two and a half years, but his Cotgrave Service Station in Nottinghamshire took home the Best Midlands site up to 2.5mlpa award at the Forecourt Trader Awards.
He says: "We are a traditional town-centre garage with four main business areas fuel, shop, workshop and car sales. The fuel retailing offers good footfall for the other segments and the Jet pole sign adds the kudos, branding our offering." However, what sets Lee’s site apart from others is that in the shop, he removed the convenience offering and reverted back to traditional forecourt territory crisps, confectionery, tobacco, soft drinks and alcohol. He says this has already paid healthy dividends: "Our monthly sales of confectionery and soft drinks have both risen by 35%."
WEST COUNTRY & WALES: 2.5MLPA PLUS
mohsin and zuber issa
Winner of the Best West Country & Wales Site, Deeside Service Station is another success story from Blackburn-based Euro Garages.
The site was the location of the UK’s first-ever drive-thru Starbucks following Euro Garages’ innovative deal with the US coffee giant.
Zuber Issa, managing director of Euro Garages, says the secret to Deeside’s success is its broad offering. "We’ve got quite a few offerings there and they provide valuable amenities for locally-based workers and passing commuters."
In addition to a drive-thru Starbucks, the site has a Burger King as well as a comprehensive Spar-branded convenience store. On the forecourt it has two jet washes, four vacuums, as well as air and water.
Says Zuber: "We’ve still got a unit left and are thinking about putting in a Subway. We hope to do that very soon."
WEST COUNTRY & WALES: up to 2.5mlpa
Murco-branded Vyrnwyside Garage was completely knocked down and rebuilt three years ago and since then has gone from strength to strength.
The development took a year and for three months had to stop selling fuel. Owner Jamie Ashton says: "We had altered the shop three times previously making it bigger and bigger until it couldn’t get any bigger. We owned the property next door the old village hall so we knocked everything down and built the new site from scratch to make a much larger shop."
Now the Costcutter-branded store is 3,500sq ft and sells everything you would expect from a modern c-store. The site largely caters for a local customer base but between Easter and November it benefits from a boost in summer trade from the local caravan parks.
Best CONFECTIONERY outlet
Wetherby Forecourt in Kirk Deighton, North Yorkshire, really knows how to get the most out of the confectionery category. With its broad range of impulse brands, sugar and chocolate sharing brands, and gift products, the site caters for every need.
Shaun Morril, manager of the site, says sales have been helped along with promotions and innovative displays. "There have been quite a lot of new chocolate launches in the past year and we’ve really got behind those, which has boosted sales. We’ve focused on availability and presentation of products to make the confectionery fixture really appealing."
Shaun says good promotions on Wispa Gold and Guzzle Puzzle have been very successful and multi-sited displays have worked well for the store. "Multi-sitings work well because you can see where in the store things sell well the best position is in-fixture. We have a good promotional fixture within the main confectionery fixture, and we also have solid promotional ends."
Best CRISPS AND SNACKS Outlet
Customers of BP Connect Milton Regis in Sittingbourne, Kent, would be hard-pushed not to be tempted to buy some savoury snacks the site has a vast array of crisps and nuts to satisfy every taste and need.
Manager Srithar Sivalingam says a successful crisps and snacks category is all about choice and presentation. "We have a lot of variety of products on offer and we display them well the fixtures are always fully stocked and well faced."
Secondary sitings and promotional offers are also important to sales, says Srithar. "We position crisps and snacks in various places around the store and we always have lots of promotions, which the customers love."
Current promotions include two for £1 Kettle Chips and Walkers; two for £2 KP Nuts; two for £3 on big bags of Hula Hoops; and buy-one-get-one-free on 160g bags of Doritos.
Best CUSTOMER SERViCE
ROBERT AND HUGH FRASER
Excellent customer service is at the heart of the Budgens of Yarnton operation. The Kidlington-based site, which also won the award for Best Midlands Site, is well connected with the local community and always puts the customer first.
Mark Wilson, group operations manager for the Fraser Group, which is owned by Robert and Hugh Fraser, says: "One of the main reasons for the rapid success of Yarnton has been putting in four tills and the sales force being trained to stop what they are doing and open another till as soon as the bell rings. Customers like this because we are always putting them first.
"We are always on the shop floor interacting with the customers who really enjoy meeting and chatting to site manager Jonathan, as well as other team members," adds Mark. "Nothing is ever too difficult for us and we are often seen assisting customers with their shopping."